What Is The Best Mascara? 32 Days, 32 Trials, One Goal Of Finding The Raddest Mascara In The Market

You know that icebreaker where people ask if you could only take one thing to a deserted island, what would it be? My answer would most certainly and unequivocally be mascara, which is why I set out to find the best mascaras on the market. As a self-proclaimed aficionado of eyelash enhancing products (AKA, I spend more time than is normal obsessing over voluminous lashes), I have taken it upon myself to find the needle in the saturated beauty haystack, the crème de la crème of mascaras. After all, if my cherished tube is the one possession accompanying me to sandy isolation, it better be the best damn mascara the beauty world has to offer.

To be honest, I may have a mascara addiction — I am not shy about layering Kardashian-like levels onto my lashes and if there is one thing I do before I leave the house, it is apply a quick swipe. Because of my borderline obsession, I understand the loyalty one has to their chosen brand and sympathize with the traumatic experience that is branching out and hating the results.

However, I have recently found myself in a mascara rut — having used the same tube of Maybelline’s The Colossal Volum’Express for a couple years now — and was in desperate need of an eyelash revamp. Armed with a desire to put the magic back in my mascara use, I set out on a month long beauty journey to test 31 tubes in 31 days — all in the name of excellent eyelashes, my friends. May the beauty force be with me.

The Experiment

Giphy

After much research, I compiled a list of the most highly touted mascaras on the market, both budget-friendly beauty buys and high end cosmetics. I would use one mascara a day for 31 days and review each in regards to ease of use, how well it delivered on the benefits it touted, and overall aesthetic. In the end, The Month of Mascara would lead me to the pièce de résistance and, more importantly, educate us all on which mascara's fell flat, literally and figuratively.

In an effort to include an opinion other than my own, I enlisted the help of outside counsel. I knew I couldn't be the only person to review each mascara of the day, so I had to find other humans who would want to see my face every single morning. Immediately, I recruited my mother — who is genetically required to feel happy when sees my face — and my best friend Sabrina — the only other person on the planet who would agree to receive one selfie of me per day in her text message feed. After we agreed on a rating system rooted in emoji thumbs up — as all legitimate rating systems are — I was armed and ready for The Month of Mascara to begin.

Day 1: Maybelline Pumped Up! Colossal Volum'Express

Maybelline Pumped Up! Colossal Volum'Express, $8, Amazon

For years I have been loyal to Pumped Up!’s sister mascara, The Colossal, so I had high hopes for the extra volume this tube boasted. And though the brush, which was round in the middle, was slightly difficult to use, the result wasn’t bad, with a formula that went on fairly smooth with minimal clumping.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 2

Sabrina: 2

Katie: 2

Day 2: Maybelline Lash Sensational Waterproof Mascara

Maybelline Lash Sensational Waterproof Mascara, $6, Amazon

While the angular shape of the brush took a minute to get used to on my non-dominant side, the volumizing effect was not sensationalized — get it?! The mascara went on smooth and the stiff bristles did a good job separating my lashes, which are prone to clumping. The brush did produce a few small flakes during application, but once on, the mascara stayed in place.

The formula I wore was waterproof and unless you are going on a week long bender where you don't plan to shower and need your mascara to be plastered to your eyelashes, I would not recommend it. A couple passes with the make-up remover and three face washes later and the eyelashes I had left still had little bits of mascara attached. There is a non-waterproof version so next time I would go with that, but overall a good volumizing mascara at a great price.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 3.5

Sabrina: 4

Katie: 3

Day 3: Eyeko Black Magic Mascara

Eyeko Black Magic Mascara, $25, Amazon

I promise, there is no magic in this tube. This mascara boasts drama and curl, but IRL, my lashes were straight and unexciting. My normally very thin, short lashes only managed to look wirey and a area of clumping gave me a slight case of spider lash. Most of the definition you see in the photograph is my eyeliner... showing through my lashes. It did do as promised and held for 12 hours, but was difficult to wash off and the daytime look was not worth the extra makeup removal time in the evening.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom:1.5Sabrina: 1

Katie: 1

Day 4: Eyeko Fat Brush

Eyeko Fat Brush Mascara, $20, Blue Mercury

Fat brush, little pay off. The large size of the brush was a little hard to maneuver, which would have been manageable and worth it had it provided a volume that matched its bushy bristles. However, again, the promise at the bottom of the bottle fell short, as my lashes ended up being small and reserved rather than big and bold.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 1Sabrina: 1

Katie: 1

Day 5: Benefit They're Real!

Benefit They're Real! Lengthening Mascara, $24, Sephora

I have used this mascara once before in a trial tube that I received and remembered liking it a great deal, yet couldn't remember why I hadn't purchased the full size version post-trial. True, the $24 price point is on the higher end, but after using it again, I can say this mascara delivers bang for your buck.

Two coats leave your lashes big and bold with added length, delivering on the promise of questionable authenticity. Another bonus: The mascara didn't flake, as some with this intense of an effect tend to do, stayed put throughout the day, and washed off easily.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 4

Sabrina: 5

Katie: 4.5

Day 6: Benefit Roller Lash Mascara Super-Curling & Lifting Mascara

Benefit Roller Lash Super-Curling & Lifting Mascara, $24, Sephora

Since my first Benefit product trial went so well, I moved onto the next one I had lined up from the brand, trying out the newest addition to its mascara arsenal. With lashes as stick straight as my hair, it is difficult to achieve any type of curl that widens my eyes, so I tend to stick to volume inducing formulas.

However, Roller Lash delivered on its promise and I noticed visible curl with the first coat on both top and bottom lashes and extra lift after the second swipe. If you are a fan of curl and lift mascara, I would recommend this as your go to.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 3.5

Sabrina: 2

Katie: 3.5

Day 7: BUXOM Waterproof Lash Mascara

BUXOM Waterproof Lash Mascara, $19, Sephora

As an emotional person prone to tears, I constantly find myself in need of a good waterproof mascara, but tend to hate every single one that I try — they feel stiff, like I have coated my eyelashes with plaster, are inclined to clumping, and require a sandblaster for removal. Until now.

While Buxom's Waterproof Lash Mascara isn't the most volumizing of the bunch, it defined and darkened my lashes, provided slight lift, and did not move through watery eyes and sweaty barre class. It also felt light on my lashes and washed off easily, which is why it warranted a high rating from me. This is my new go to waterproof mascara.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom:1

Sabrina: 2.5

Katie: 3.5

Day 8: Bare Mineral Lash Domination Volumizing Mascara

bareMineral Lash Domination Volumizing Mascara, $17, Amazon

I definitely wouldn't say my lashes were dominating on day eight. The unique wand and stiff bristles provided great lash separation, but the mascara only delivered subtle volume. The main reason my lashes look at all voluminous is because the plastic bristles coated them individually without clumping. Overall expectations versus reality — this mascara falls middle of the road at best.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 2.5Sabrina: 4

Katie: 2

Day 9: Urban Decay Perversion Mascara

Urban Decay Perversion Mascara, $22, Sephora

This is, by far, my favorite mascara of the experiment, more than warranting its rating of fives across the board. The blackest black color combined with a brush that somehow perfectly coats every lash without causing clumping made for amped up lashes on both the top and bottom. I felt like I walked out of a Kardashian selfie with the boldest lashes I have ever had.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 5Sabrina: 5

Katie: 5

Day 10: MAC False Lashes Mascara

MAC False Lashes Mascara, $23, Nordstrom

Unfortunately, after two coats, I barely looked like I had any mascara on at all, and left my eyes slightly irritated. I'm not sure I would choose this over the au naturale look.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 2

Sabrina: 1

Katie: 1

Day 11: The Body Shop Super Volume Mascara

The Body Shop Super Volume Mascara, $15, Amazon

For the second day in a row, a tube promising big time volume didn't quite yield big time volume. I can only assume Sabrina gave this mascara a 3 because she was momentarily captivated by how much she loves my face.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 1Sabrina: 3

Katie: 1

Day 12: L'Oreal Voluminous Miss Manga Mascara

L'Oreal Voluminous Miss Manga, $6, Amazon

I loved it. The crazy bendy brush made my eyes look doll-like, with lots of length and volume for both my top and bottom lashes. And any clumping that occurred was part of the Twiggy-esque effect. This is a fun addition for a night out — its midnight black color was perfectly intense.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 3

Sabrina: 2.5

Katie: 3

Day 13: L'Oreal Voluminous Butterfly Mascara

L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Butterfly Mascara, $8, Amazon

Voluminous Butterfly could easily be my new favorite drugstore mascara. The unique brush creates a lash that is truly reminiscent of a wing — less dramatic on the inside with full, fanned out volume on the outside. The stiff bristles do a good job of separating and the only reason the perfect 5 eluded this mascara was because of slight clumping on the second coat. Other than that, my lashes felt pumped up and took on a glamorous shape I have never previously achieved.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 4Sabrina: 4.5

Katie: 4

Day 14: CoverGirl Lash Blast Volume Mascara

CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Mascara, $9, Amazon

There is a reason women have been easy, breezy, and beautiful for 50 years. If you are looking for straight volume at a great retail price, look no further than CoverGirl's Lash Blast Volume Mascara. My lashes plumped up after two quick coats with very little clumping and easy application on both the top and bottom lashes.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 3.5

Sabrina: 4

Katie: 4

Day 15: CoverGirl Lash Blast Full Bloom Mascara

CoverGirl Full Lash Bloom Mascara, $9, Walgreens

While this mascara didn't offer as much volume as the Lash Blast formula, it provided great separation and lift — almost as if my lashes were blooming out of my eyes — sorry I had to! If I were choosing between the two, I would go for the former, but at $8, the Full Bloom version is still a great option for everyday, volumized lashes.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 2.5

Sabrina: 2

Katie: 2.5

Day 16: Avon Mega Effects Mascara

Avon Mega Effects Mascara, $8, Amazon

Though my cohorts gave this mascara a 3, the photo makes my lashes look bigger and bolder than they actually were, and I had a hard time separating them after just one coat.

While this little paintbrush is adorable, it was difficult to use, even with its ability to bend to multiple angles — only my middle lashes were properly coated.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 3Sabrina: 3

Katie: 1.5

Day 17: Avon SuperExtend Winged Out Mascara

Avon SuperExtend Winged Out Mascara, $8, Amazon

If you want a winged out lash, refer back to the Voluminous Butterfly mascara. Not only did Avon's version not give my lashes a fanned out look, it didn't do much of anything at all. Even though I had generously applied two coats, I fit right in with everyone else getting their early morning barre class on — like I rolled out of bed with last night's worn out mascara still on.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 1Sabrina: 1

Katie: 1

Day 18: Urban Decay Fast, Easy, Sexy Partial False Eyelashes

Urban Decay Fast, Easy, Sexy Partial False Eyelashes, $15, Nordstrom

Disclaimer: I have never worn false lashes before today so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the results. Considering I am a voluminous lash lover, I don't think these partial lashes were the best choice, but they were easy to apply, stayed put for over 12 hours, and looked natural. I loved the extra length, but wanted them to be a little darker, so I added a layer of mascara, which gave me a look I really loved. The quality of the lashes was great and the results made me want to try different versions in the future.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 2.5Sabrina: 3.5

Katie: 2.5

Day 19: Flower Intensif-Eye Volumizing Mascara

Flower Intensif-Eye Volumizing Mascara, $8, Walmart

The formula certainly amped up my lashes for a big, bold look, but the three-way bristle technology, which was supposed to volumize while separating led to some clumping.

After dipping the brush into the mascara, I had a hard time telling which bristles were which and by the second coat, I was having to get out my trusty eyelash brush to break up my lashes. I also ended up with little flecks of mascara on my face. Though the end look was pretty, the ease of application was not.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 3.5Sabrina: 5

Katie: 3

Day 20: Laura Geller StyleLASH Intense Lengthening Mascara

Laura Geller StyleLASH Intense Lengthening Mascara, $24, Nordstrom

As I have said, I am a voluminous lash type of girl — the bigger the better in my beauty book. Because of this, I am not one to try out lengthening mascaras, as I tend to be afraid they won't do much for my thin lashes. However, I was pleasantly surprised with Laura Geller's lengthening mascara. My lashes "grew" significantly longer after one coat and by the second, the added length even made them seem fuller. I especially liked the effects of the mascara on my bottom lashes, as they do not always benefit from a volumizing mascara. If you are a lengthening mascara type of girl or want to test the waters, I would recommend this product.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 4

Sabrina: 4.5

Katie: 3.5

Day 21: Eyeko Skinny Brush Mascara

Eyeko Skinny Brush Mascara, $26, Amazon

My first two days of Eyeko mascara were disappointing. I had high expectations for the brand, as these London based brushes seem to pop up on every beauty best list, with Eva Chen and Alexa Chung among their loyalists. After a sub-par first two tries, the Eyeko Skinny Brush saved the day! I was not expecting this to be my favorite brush, considering it was super tiny and promised long and tall lashes — all things that pointed to the opposite of the volume I need — but I loved it.

The thin wand and unique bristles easily coated all of my lashes, lengthening, curling, and volumizing. My bottom lashes particularly felt the love as they were almost as pronounced as the top. The Skinny Brush is definitely my personal Eyeko obsession and the perfect everyday mascara.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 3Sabrina: 3.5

Katie: 3.5

Day 22: Eyeko Eye Do Mascara

Eyeko Eye Do Mascara, $28, Amazon

The fourth and final Eyeko mascara wasn't disappointing, but didn't live up to the Skinny Brush. While it lengthened my lashes as advertised, it left them looking thin and straight. I would absolutely opt for the Skinny Brush over the Eye Do.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 2Sabrina: 2.5

Katie: 2

Day 23: BUXOM Mascara Bar — Curl & Contour Brush

Buxom Mascara Bar- Curl & Contour, $22, Sephora

Prior to this trial, I hadn't used a mascara that boasted curling abilities. Then, I dipped my toe into the lift and curl waters with Benefit's Roller Lash, which I liked a great deal. However, the curl I got from BUXOM's Curl & Contour brush far exceeded expectations and previous products.

Part of BUXOM's Mascara Bar at Sephora — where guests choose the brush type that fits their lash needs, each of which match back to one great formula — the Curl & Contour brush does exactly what its name markets. Not only were my lashes super curvaceous and lifted, they were, well, contoured perfectly. The brush had the perfect curve, allowing me to cover all my eyelashes with an even swipe. I'll be adding this mascara to my list of must haves and the peanut gallery agreed with unanimous "fives."

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 5Sabrina: 5

Katie: 5

Day 24: BUXOM Mascara Bar — Big & Bushy Brush

Buxom Mascara Bar — Big & Bushy, $22, Sephora

Another win for the BUXOM Mascara Bar. Again, I am totally amazed at how my lashes look exactly like the brush's description — not just voluminous, but rather, big and bushy. The many tiny, fuzzy bristles worked their way into my lashes, successfully coating each one and resulting in a fullness I haven't gotten from other mascaras. Full, voluminous lashes with a softer appearance — I am sold and so were the judges.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 4.5Sabrina: 5

Katie: 4.5

Day 25: BUXOM Mascara Bar — Lush & Lifted Brush

Buxom Mascara Bar — Lush & Lifted, $22, Sephora

Shocker: I loved BUXOM's Lush & Lifted mascara brush just as much as the previous two brushes. It volumized my lashes without looking the least bit clumpy or heavy, but provided a little more va-va voom than the prior bristles for a different and equally fabulous result. The two sides of the wand are clearly differentiated and easy to use — when you apply one coat with each type of bristle, magic ensues. True Life: I Am A Buxom Mascara Bar Addict.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 5Sabrina: 4.5Katie: 5

Day 26: BUXOM Mascara Bar — Strong & Long Brush

Buxom Mascara Bar — Strong & Long, $22, Sephora

Four days, four wins for the Buxom Mascara Bar. BUXOM's Strong & Long was my second foray into lengthening mascara and, while this product and Laura Geller's ended up with an overall rating of 4, I would choose BUXOM's Strong & Long every time. My lashes got exponentially longer after two coats, but were also full looking — strong, if you will. Seriously, who named these mascaras because, bravo — you hit the nail on the head every time. You would think the results from the itty bitty bristles wouldn't lengthen or strengthen much of anything, but the tiny wand packs a big punch.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 3.5Sabrina: 5

Katie: 4

Day 27: Maybelline Great Lash Mascara

Maybelline Great Lash Mascara, $5, Amazon

In consideration of the love affair I had with BUXOM, I didn't think Maybelline's Great Lash Mascara would stand much of a chance. However, there is a reason that little pink and green bottle has been a staple in makeup bags for generations — with two quick coats, my lashes were definitely more defined and ready to take on the day. For $7, Great Lash is still a solid mascara staple.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 3

Sabrina: 3.5

Katie: 3

Day 28: Rogue Bunny Rouge Witchery Mascara

Rogue Bunny Rouge Witchery Mascara, $30, Amazon

Molding is part of the description, yet the results were minimal. I was expecting big results to go along with the big price tag.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 2

Sabrina: 1

Katie: 1

Day 29: By Terry Mascara Terrybly — Growth Boosting Mascara

By Terry Mascara Terrybly — Growth Boosting Mascara, $48, Net-A-Porter

Had I used this growth boosting, volumizing mascara earlier in the month, I may have given it a higher rating, but in comparison to some of the heavy hitters previously reviewed, this mascara fell short. The thick brush thoroughly coated my lashes and provided good volume, but there wasn't much lift or lash separation.

To be fair, this product is also marketed as a growth boosting mascara, so had I used it for more than a day, I might have seen additional benefits. Overall, there are a number of other mascaras I would use as my everyday go to over this one, especially considering its high price point.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 2

Sabrina: 2

Katie: 2

Day 30: Clinique High Impact Mascara

Clinique High Impact Mascara, $23, Amazon

Clinique’s volumizing mascara didn't quite deliver as dramatic an effect as the line's other offerings, so if you're looking for volume, perhaps you're best off going with the one I tried on Day 31.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 2Sabrina: 2

Katie: 1

Day 31: Clinique Lash Power Feathering Mascara

Clinique Lash Power Feathering Mascara, $18, Nordstrom

While I still prefer the Voluminous Butterfly mascara for a fanned out look, the Clinique formula resulted in a softer appearance, which is nice for everyday wear. It was a lightweight formula that enhanced my lashes without feeling heavy and the soft bristles coated my lashes individually for a full finish. It didn't make as much of an impact as some of my favorites earlier in the month, but it did subtly enhance my lashes in a way that was appealing.

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 3

Sabrina: 4

Katie: 2.5

Day 32: Kevyn Aucoin The Essential Mascara

Surprise! I know there aren't 32 days in a month, but Kevyn Aucoin's The Essential Mascara is one of the most buzzed about in recent years, so I couldn't leave it out. And guess what? The bonus mascara could quite possible be my most favorite! The brush has just the right amount of curve and the formula leaves a thick coat of deep, dark mascara on every lash, without feeling heavy or resulting in clumping. The bristles are short and tight and, when combined with the substantial mascara, feel like you are pulling your lashes through molasses. This mascara has lived up to its hype and it's name — even at $32, it's definitely an essential.

Kevyn Aucoin The Essential Mascara, $32, Amazon

EMOJI THUMBS UP:

Mom: 4Sabrina: 5

Katie: 5

Success! 32 mascara trials in 32 days and a few new favorites to add to my arsenal. If you are looking to mix up your lash routine and are in need of a recommendation, the brands that rose to the top of my list after one month of product hopping were Buxom, Benefit, Urban Decay, and Kevyn Aucoin — each with a handful of mascaras to give you on point peepers. Go ahead — bat those big, beautiful lashes!

Images: Katie Patton; Giphy